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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY              311

The practice of the schools in general, and more especially of the
elementary schools, underwent considerable modification. In-
struction was made more agreeable by being brought nearer the
level of childhood. Greater stress was laid on a knowledge of
things. Practical activities—games and exercises and handicrafts
—were more freely introduced. The mother tongue received
greater attention, and other languages were taught as far as possible
by the conversational method. Considerations of utility
increasingly affected the choice of the subjects to be taught.
These changes, no doubt, were often made unwisely, but taking
them all in all they wrere in the right direction, and they made more
fundamental changes possible later on.

The centre of all this reform was the kingdom of Prussia. There
Basedow and his followers had the special good fortune to win
and to keep the sympathy of Baron von Zedlitz, the able minister
of Frederick the Great, who was at the head of the department of
public instruction from 1771 to 1789. What probably attracted
the Baron most in the philanthropinic ideas was the doctrine of
national education; but he approved of the movement in a general
wray, and with remarkable persistence he tried to introduce its
best features into the schools for which he was responsible. His
greatest success was achieved in the reorganization of the classical
schools and in the promotion of the university study of pedagogy.
For the latter he established at Halle in 1779 ^e first chair of
pedagogy with Frapp, one of Basedow's assistants, as professor,
as well as a pedagogical institute for the training of teachers in
philanthropinist methods. But his crowning accomplishment,
effected shortly before his deposition by Frederick's successor,
was the institution of a Supreme Council of Public Instruction
(Oberschulcollegium) in 1787. Even then, however, the triumph of
philanthropinism—and of La Chalotais—was not yet complete.
For a few years the reactionary party which had driven von Zedlitz
from power were able to arrest progress ; but not for long. The
decree establishing a Supreme Council was followed seven years
later by an education law which made all universities and schools
State institutions. With the accession of Frederick William III
in 1797, the national movement was resumed from the point at
which it had been left by von Zedlitz. The main reform still
needed was the freeing of the schools from bondage to an estab-
lished religious confession. That was brought about in 1803,